Demystifying Trade Secrets
A trade secret is any information used in commerce that the owner has taken reasonable measures to keep secret, from which the owner derives independent economic value and such information not being readily ascertainable by the public. Such trade secrets are afforded legal protection against theft as long as the owner continues to derive commercial value from it (as opposed to patents which usually only provide up to 20 years of protection).
18 U.S.C. § 1832: Theft of Trade Secrets a) Whoever, with intent to convert a trade secret, that is related to a product or service used in or intended for use in interstate or foreign commerce, to the economic benefit of anyone other than the owner thereof, and intending or knowing that the offense will, injure any owner of that trade secret, knowingly— (1) steals, or without authorization appropriates, takes, carries away, or conceals, or by fraud, artifice, or deception obtains such information; (2) without authorization copies, duplicates, sketches, draws, photographs, downloads, uploads, alters, destroys, photocopies, replicates, transmits, delivers, sends, mails, communicates, or conveys such information; (3) receives, buys, or possesses such information, knowing the same to have been stolen or appropriated, obtained, or converted without authorization; (4) attempts to commit any offense described in paragraphs (1) through (3); or (5) conspires with one or more other persons to